Adams v. The Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Description:  Dr. Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington, frequently received accolades from his colleagues after the university hired him as an assistant professor in 1993 and promoted him to associate professor in 1998. At the time he was an atheist, but his conversion to Christianity in 2000 impacted his views on political and social issues. After this, he was subjected to intrusive investigations, baseless accusations, and the denial of promotion to full professor even though his scholarly output surpassed that of almost all of his colleagues. In a lawsuit filed against the university on Adams’ behalf, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys contended that the university denied Adams a promotion because his nationally syndicated opinion columns espoused religious and political views that ran contrary to the opinions held by university officials.


Court orders UNC–Wilmington to pay, promote professor after retaliating against him

Judge says university must promote Mike Adams to job it denied him, pay $50,000 in back pay
Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Travis Barham  |  Kevin Theriot

GREENVILLE, N.C. — A federal court Tuesday ordered the University of North Carolina–Wilmington to promote a professor to the rank of full professor, a position it originally denied him, and to pay him $50,000 in back pay. In March, a jury found that university officials had retaliated against criminology professor Dr. Mike Adams for expressing conservative views in his opinion columns, books, and speeches when those officials denied him a promotion in 2006.
 
“As the marketplace of ideas, universities must respect the freedom of professors to express their points of view,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “The jury last month found that disagreeing with an accomplished professor’s religious and political views is no grounds for denying him a promotion. The court’s order rights the wrong done to Dr. Adams by granting him the full professorship he has long deserved.”
 
“This is a great day not only for Dr. Adams but for all who value academic freedom,” said Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The court’s order reminds universities that they cannot retaliate against those who simply express opinions that some officials do not like.”
 
Since 2007, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have represented Adams together with lead counsel David French, who began the case with ADF and now litigates for the American Center for Law and Justice.
 
The order in Adams v. The Trustees of the University of North Carolina–Wilmington from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division, states, “The court hereby orders the defendants confer upon plaintiff full professorship as of the date of this order, with pay and benefits in the future to relate back to August 2007, when plaintiff's 2006 promotion application would have gone into effect had it been successful.”
 
In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit determined that the First Amendment protects the opinion columns that Adams published, saying that “no individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment…. Adams’ columns addressed topics such as academic freedom, civil rights, campus culture, sex, feminism, abortion, homosexuality, religion, and morality. Such topics plainly touched on issues of public, rather than private, concern.”
 
A former atheist, Adams frequently received accolades from his colleagues after the university hired him as an assistant professor in 1993 and promoted him to associate professor in 1998. His conversion to Christianity in 2000 impacted his views on political and social issues. Subsequently, the university subjected Adams to a campaign of academic persecution that culminated in his denial of promotion to full professor, despite an award-winning record of teaching, research, and service.
 
 
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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Additional resources: Adams v. The Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Previous news releases:

  • 2014-03-20: Jury finds UNC–Wilmington retaliated against professor
  • 2014-03-14: UNC–Wilmington on trial for retaliation against professor
  • 2011-04-06: Victory for academic freedom: 4th Circuit says professor’s speeches, columns protected by First Amendment
  • 2011-01-25: Renowned professor challenges promotion denial over religion in appellate hearing
  • 2010-07-02: UNC professor denied promotion over opinion columns gains significant support
  • 2010-04-12: ADF appeals decision that ruled professor’s opinion columns unprotected by First Amendment
  • 2010-03-17: Judge rules professor’s opinion columns not protected by First Amendment
  • 2008-04-04: Court refuses to dismiss professor’s discrimination suit against UNC-Wilmington
  • 2007-01-10: ADF sues UNC-Wilmington on behalf of conservative pundit and professor Mike Adams

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